GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Everyone from the superintendent to the police chief to the district attorney made tackled questions about what’s leading to some of most violent incidents at schools recently.
Some believe discipline is at the root of the issue, but the superintendent says there aren’t easy answers.
Channel 2’s Matt Johnson was at New Mercies Christian Church in Lilburn, where parents and students spoke out about the recent violence.
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How students are disciplined and how schools will be safer led the discussion about recent violence in Gwinnett County schools Wednesday.
Panelists asked and answered questions about two recent shootings involving students – including a deadly one a week ago near Norcross High.
“What we have to do is teach our kids, respect number one, because I think that’s the biggest problem,” Judge Rodney Harris said.
“Naturally, I’m very concerned,” one parent said.
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“We need swift action,” another parent said.
“We are going to hold our students accountable,” said Dr. Calvin Watts, superintendent of Gwinnett County schools.
Watts defended a change to the district discipline policy this year that eased standards for student tribunals.
“We have students who have been expelled, we have students who have been issued out of school behaviors that we’ve heard about, what we have to understand is what happens when those students come back to school, or what happens if they don’t? he asked.
He told Channel 2 afterwards that the policy may be tweaked after concerns from parents and teachers that it could be leading to more violence.
“It is a policy in its infancy and so we’re continuing to refine and iterate and make necessary adjustments as we go forward,” he said.
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Watts says the district continues to consider adding metal detectors and security wands for students entering schools.
The meeting ended without a specific plan to tackle violence but instead a call for everyone to play a role.
“This is not a quick fix; in fact, it’s going to take each and every one of us,” Watts said.
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